Mathematics and its usefulness by a high school student.

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Photo by Reuben Teo on Unsplash

a high school student fond of math, I often indulge in an argument with my classmates over why I think mathematics, is possibly the most powerful and multidimensional subject a student can learn. Although very subjective, this claim had to be heard by all students; after all, every student should make room for the appreciation of one of the most fundamental subjects known to man.

Mathematics, due to its esoteric nature is perceived as alien and complex by many students. Intending to unravel and present the subject’s unseen elegance, this article shall hopefully find its way to readers who would begin acknowledging the subject’s importance and overcome their intuition of math anxiety.

Until late middle school, I too, used to treat mathematics as ‘just another obligatory subject taught in school’. Possibly, the reason the subject never seemed special, was because I never tried connecting with it. The subject somehow never made me go back home and spend hours on the internet just reading about an exciting topic under it. But I was wrong. It may have taken me a while but I did begin to form a link with the subject. The subject began to look like a necessity more than an obligation. Unwillingly, I began to agree with the fact that mathematics is understood by many, but it only speaks to some. Thus, based on my experience with the subject, I intend to cast light on why actually math matters.

Obvious reasons known by every student:

Obvious Reason#1: Almost all careers require mathematics:
You know it too, that ‘scientist’, ‘astronaut’, ‘doctor’ and ‘pilot’ are one of the dream professions of almost every kid. However cool these professions are, each one of them require certain understanding of mathematics and its applications. As far as a scientist is concerned, simply consider mathematics as your daily cup of tea, because it is true that without mathematics there is no science. Likewise, the job of pilots as well requires them to have fair understanding of algebra and calculus.

Obvious Reason#2: It is helpful in everyday life (typical shopping and kitchen examples).
Obvious Reason#3: It is the backbone of all Sciences

“Mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations or algorithms: it is about understanding” — William Paul Thurston

Not-so-obvious reasons:

  1. It’s trying to speak to you, don’t ignore it.
    After all mathematics, is one of the most fundamental subjects. What I mean by fundamental here is that the subject is the core, or the heart of everything we see around us. Mathematics and its principles were involved even in the formation of the universe. Ever since, mathematics has grown to become the governor of this world and a vital part of our everyday life. Take a moment to just look at the nature around you. Look at any pretty flower, maybe gaze the stars at night, or even observe the radiant pattern on a butterfly’s wings. All of these patterns are simply the applications of a mathematical concept called Fibonacci sequence in nature. Allow the subject to amaze you. When it tries to speak to you, maybe by planting a thought in your mind, or showing you its applications in real life then respond to it. Know how numbers are hidden in everything around you. The fact that a spider can effortlessly spin its web in a pattern similar to the logarithmic spiral cannot be overlooked.
  2. You need to know how to speak the universal language!
    Imagine what it would be like to be the only person in your family not knowing the language your parents and siblings are speaking. The entire day, they would talk things you fail to comprehend. If you find this scenario to be frustrating and challenging, imagine what it would be like to be one of those who does not understand the language that not 5, but 7.6 billion speak! Well, math the ONLY universal language to exist. Mathematics is the sole language to be shared by all historic civilizations, regardless of their culture. The Egyptian, Greek and Mesopotamian civilizations do not share the same architecture, nor the culture. Yet, every civilization you study, every country you will visit today will have the same math being applied. Wherever you go 1 + 1 will be 2, pi will equal 22/7 and the Pythagoras theorem will be a²+b²=c².
  3. Makes you a strong contender no matter where you go.
    Having a strong mathematics background can in a way, help you in becoming a stronger contender. How? Well knowing enough math can help you in the most unexpected situations. If you are a contender in any STEM competitions, may it be robotics, lego league challenges, Hackathons or even Codewars, being good at math will certainly give you a leg up in such competitions.
    The subject not just makes you a strong contender in competitions, but can also be useful in your extracurricular interests. If your an avid beginner in learning any musical instruments, by knowing math, metronomes, time signatures and even Mozart’s sonatas will begin to make much more sense. Playing two notes in perfect time interval, precisely playing the required amount of notes within a bar; the mind indeed needs to be equipped with sufficient math knowledge to be able to play a piece perfectly. Moreover, even while denoting time signatures in music, we need integers and fractions. Math stays useful in not only music, but even visual arts. Try and name the most famous painting you have heard of. I am sure, the names that might click are: “Mona Lisa” (of course the famous lady everyone knows), “The Last Supper”, “The Creation of Adam”, “The School of Athens”. Well more than just paintings, these are mathematical masterpieces. Probably, the reason why these are few of the world’s most renowned paintings are because they use a lot of math. So, if your in the race of becoming the next Leonardo da Vinci or Raphael, maybe mathematics is the key to making your paintings a masterpiece.

Math indeed finds its way in everything and anything you see around yourself, because it is true that where there is pattern, there is math. Mathematics is like a bacteria that surrounds you. But in order to see it, you do need to be equipped with a lens stronger than your eyes. Train your mind in a way that your eyes will start seeing math everywhere. Let numbers not scare you, but speak to you.
Treat the subject as an experience. Every time you sit to solve a difficult sum, don’t quit! Try, because as a matter of fact: most students who dislike this subject aren’t scared of it, but are just lazy. Don’t label your laziness as mathematical anxiety. Consider Math as an ocean. Its vastness is its beauty. The more you dive into it, it begins to interest you by showing you its undiscovered, serene side — and trust me when I say this, because after all I too am a student and not a professor forcing math on young, sensitive minds.

“The book of nature is written in the language of mathematics” — Galileo

An anomalous being keen on sharing his thoughts to the entire world.

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